Microsoft partners with BBC to announce the BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized, codeable computer for students

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BBC Micro bit

The BBC micro:bit is a small device that can be programmed to light up using a series of tiny LEDs. A fun introduction to programming and making – switch on, program it to do something fun – wear it, customize it, develop new ideas. The first wave of BBC micro:bits will hit UK schools this fall. The device has been specifically designed for students starting with little or no computing experience, to show them that they can progress and ultimately create the type of computer games and other programmes and apps that they use every day.

Microsoft has been working closely with a range of companies, including ARM, Farnell and Samsung, to create the BBC micro:bit. Microsoft is providing the web-based programming tools, the Microsoft Azure-based hosting service and teacher training materials.

To bring the BBC micro:bit to life in 2015, Microsoft has developed an enhanced version of their popular TouchDevelop web application and hosting service. This means the micro:bit has its own dedicated website, Microsoft Azure hosting for all one million micro:bits and a range of online code editors available from most any modern web browser.

Microsoft also has supplied two languages/editors – TouchDevelop, a text-based language, and the Block Editor, a graphical coding language. The TouchDevelop web app holds all the code editors built for the micro:bit, runs the micro:bit simulator, sends the code to the ARM compiler and brings back the compiled files to be sent to the micro:bit.

Read more about the BBC micro:bit and Microsoft TouchDevelop.

Microsoft has put together a complete package of materials that can help get teachers up and running and support them through the school year. This includes:

  • A Quick Start Guide, which takes teachers from a basic understanding of the device through to exciting games and tutorials;
  • extensive online documentation for the micro:bit and the code editors
  • workshops for teaching partners and direct connections between the coding environment and the Computing at School community
  • Kodu for micro:bit has new programming tiles that allow interaction with the micro:bit. With these new tiles, you can control character movement using the accelerometer, jump and shoot with a button press, display animations and scrolling text on the screen, interface with other devices through the IO pins, and much more.
  • Windows 10 app with BLE connectivity to micro:bit, in development.

More about the topics: bbc, microsoft, microsoft research